Brown Lips: They’re Baaack

Le Métier de Beauté 'Cashmere'
MAC 'Yash'
Napoleon Perdis 'Lauren'
Maybelline 'Crazy For Coffee'
Riri MAC 'Nude'
Face Stockholm 'Cranberry Veil'

We’ve had our fun walking around like veritable billboards in support of logomania, tying flannel shirts around our waists, scuffing around in the ugliest shoes we can find, working the party circuit in next-to-nothing slip dresses, and swooshing My-So-Called-Life red hair like Elnett's being discontinued. And now we embrace the future of ‘90s redux: light brown lipstick.

All apologies to Garance, Julia, Camilla, Tom, Poppy, and Victoire, but for the moment, shades of mud are kicking your little bold red lip's metaphorical ass. A brown lip is healthy and mellow and not trying too hard, but still just as pulled-together as its crimson counterparts. Le Métier de Beauté's new Hydra-Crème Lipstick in Cashmere makes us feel like we're backstage at a Todd Oldham show—where Kevyn Aucoin is applying the shade to Naomi, Kate, and Shalom right before Todd sends them down the runway, saying (if Bret Easton Ellis is to be trusted), “Big smiles and be proud of who you are!”

Not since Céline's choker revival have we felt lust like this, and so we follow it through with MAC’s Claudia Schiffer-esque, tawny Yash; Napoleon Perdis’s Cindy-Crawford-circa-House-of-Style burnt sienna Lauren; Maybelline’s Liv-Tyler-in-Empire-Records dusty rose Crazy for Coffee; RiRi Hearts MAC's so-ugly-it's-pretty, dark greige Nude (like we needed further proof that Rihanna knows lipstick); and the Carolyn Bessette-Kennedy-approved tawny red Cranberry Veil from Face Stockholm.

Wearing a brown lip is easy: just pair with your favorite Pulp single, zip up your Calvins, pull a shrunken white Gap crewneck over your head, and go meet the mope rocker of your dreams for a diet Arizona Iced Tea.

Photos by Mathea Millman.

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  • Imola

    I don't know, it could be the pictures or my monitor, but these would more qualify as light terracotta for me, which is more towards the orange-y end of the spectrum? maybe the Riri Mac shade is the first step towards real brown colors. I do remember terracotta was also huge in the 90s, but even those were darker, and actual brown shades were way darker than these, at least where I grew up.

  • Carina

    Happy to see Le Métier de Beauté's "Cashmere" lipstick on here! I'm not too fond of "true browns," but these shades, I love.

  • Meredith

    These appear to be modernized versions of the 90's browns. Many of the browns worn in the 90's were deeper, even mocha-ish. I don't find these tones flattering on most skin tones. Something like Black Honey is much prettier for a natural lip, IMO.

    • Baby

      I totally agree - while I can appreciate the idea of a brown-ish/tawny lipstick, as a fair white girl, they are wildly unflattering in a way that is strange - they draw attention to the lips but not in a positive way. At least in my experience with other pale friends.. Plus they make teeth look yellow, even if they are not. On my friends with darker/ebony skin tones, they do look fabulous - rich, deep, really super attractive.

      If someone is interested in a more natural option, rms beauty has a lip shine called Moment which is a brownish shade that's fairly pigmented.

      • Guest

        As a brown skinned girl, let me say that I don't think brown lipstick looks good on anyone. On my skin, they make me look as if I'm a very messy eater who has no concept of what a napkin is used for. I'll pass.

        • Baby

          Fair enough, though I have to tell me your metaphor made me laugh.... It's very evocative! It's all down to the undertones versus skin colour? Does that make sense?

  • Sandy Light

    THANKS for showing the various shades on that model - takes a lot of the guesswork out of it!

  • T

    ITG -- Who makes the email the model is wearing? Thanks

    • Katrrr

      I'm really curious what word you accidentally (I strongly suppose) substituted here?!

  • AsphodelJones

    God, I miss the grunge '90s! In high school, my favorite lipstick was MAC "Luxe," a warm golden brown. These days it's L'Oreal "Nature's Blush," which is more terracotta. I keep trying to pull off red lips, but my heart belongs to shades of nude and brown.

  • Marlenne

    I love brown lips, MAC Creme in Your Coffee is a favorite. Face Stockholm's lipstick is really pretty!

  • Jennifer Monforton

    Love the 90s feel to these shades. Thanks for sharing! xo

  • bunnygrrrl3000

    I feel like these shades are.... PEACH

  • Jessica

    I'm loving the brown lips!! I've been wearing shades a bit darker than your photos though... more like taupes and chocolate browns rather than nudes and orange-y shades. So much fun, and slightly controversial, I think... which makes it all the more fun, yes? ;)

  • shinyshinysocks

    I like freshening up the nude/brown lip angle with an orange hue. I've been sporting MAKE Cosmetics' "Rust" shade for a great matte, orange-y brown. Speaking of which, their whole line is fantastic.

  • Camellia

    You forgot the 90's lip liner staple - Mac "Spice" . Fill in the lips and put a dab of lip balm on top.

  • Audrey Knox

    Does anyone else think of MLA when they read this title? Or does Into the Gloss not really cross over with The League?

  • kathS

    Anyone see the episode of The League where one of the guy's GFs wore brown lipstick??

  • Nerdylibrariangirl

    I love the return of the brown lip! All my friends and I wore Bonne Bell lipliner in chutney back in the 90s. Its discontinued, but I recently went to MAC and loaded up on lipliner (matte is the look of the 90s) in Cork, Spice, and Subculture <3

  • Guest

    I'm going to fly in the face of all of your pronouncements about brown lipstick and simply say I don't like it, it's not for me, and I won't be wearing it.

  • caryrandolph

    Two words: Clinique "Tenderheart"
    It's the only brown lipstick worth sticking to your lip, I swear.

  • Maria A.

    My new fav is MAC Stripdown liner with NARS Love Devotion / NARS Turkish Delight right in the center for 3D effects.

  • joannanyc

    I don't think I'm ready for this. Though come to think of it I might have a MAC Spice and Bobbi Brown Cola in the back of a drawer somewhere ...

  • Brynn

    Apparently we're on the same page—Lately I've been watching the X-Files for the first time and now I'm on the hunt for a Dana Scully inspired muted red/brown lipstick, circa 1995. The Napoleon Perdis and Face Stockholm colors seem like good matches!

  • asha

    It would be great if ITG made it a policy to include suggestions for and/or models of different skin tones. Although I <3 the content and styling of this post, it's hard for me to tell if any of the shades in this post could work for my brown skin. I'm sure many other readers have this same difficulty.

  • Prenouveau

    Where do you see an earring? I looked at all the pics but I only see a necklace?

    • sybar1te

      I guess ITG re-cropped the photos, maybe to avoid annoying accessory-related requests. (Or I just imagined it!) I thought there was a gold talon/claw -type earring in her left ear....

    • sybar1te

      Actually, I just noticed it's on the front page pic. (Not in the slideshow.) Sorry I'm a spacecase!

  • babelincoln

    NEED to know where the gold cone/ spike earring in the cover photo came from. Please help me out!!

    • babelincoln

      help!!! please!!!

      • Prenouveau

        I think it's hard to tell because you can't see the whole earring, but it could be the "long curved bar" earring from Catbird. In any case you might like that one if you like the one in the pic :)

  • Chicon

    I am forever loyal to L'Oreal's Toasted Almond lipstick. It is a mildly peachy-brown. It looks good on my fair (warm) skin. Revlon Toast of New York is nice, too.

  • KitKat

    Can I ask what other make-up you're supposed to wear with brown lipstick to make it work? I have a tube of this color from the rollout of the Kate Moss Rimmel lipstick collection and I'd like to make it work, but it just looks weird on me.

  • Ophelia Otten

    As for me brown color on lips make a young womal look like an old lady with pigmented skin. It doesn`t bring freshness to the look at all!


Napoleon Perdis
Napoleon Perdis Mattetastic Lipstick, Lauren
Le Metier de Beaute
Le Metier de Beaute Hydra-Creme Lipstick
Maybelline ColorSensational Lipcolor, Crazy for Coffee
MAC Yash
RiRi Hearts MAC Lipstick Nude
Face Stockholm
Face Stockholm Lipstick Cranberry Veil